Who’s proud of property, by Paul Morrish, Chief Executive of LandAid

by Johnny Clayton on Friday, 21 February 2020


The property industry gets a bad press. Profiteering, gentrification, playing the planning system, poor quality… the list is endless. In the British Property Federation’s recent perception analysis, barely one in five respondents looked favourably on the industry. No matter that many of us work for companies determined to make wonderful places for people to live and work, with strong and positive ethics, people see us as elitist, there for the rich and responsible for a range of urban and social woes.

It can make it hard to feel proud of our industry.

As Chief Executive at LandAid, I meet hundreds of property professionals every year, many of whom are ambassadors for LandAid – often new to the profession or in their first five years in property, who champion our mission and help us raise the funds we need. But be they grads or grandees, working in prop tech or at the Great Estates, I’m astonished by the wide array of people who love their jobs, their businesses, and the people they work in across the industry. I see phenomenal professionalism and tireless hard work, courtesy, curiosity, kindness and generosity. And I see the results of their work – stunning developments or re-developments across London, in Manchester, in Bristol, in Cambridge where I live…

There is a lot to be proud of.

But the aspect of the industry about which perhaps we should feel most proud, and the aspect that is increasingly influencing where we chose to work, is our growing sense of social purpose.

Profit has not gone away. But barely a day goes past without another company outlining its social impact, or social value. There is a growing discipline evolving around the capture and measurement of social value. Even investors are starting to ask, “But what difference will this really make?” And as Sophie Eastwood wrote about in her blog, there are now even prestigious awards for social impact.

The industry has always been generous. There have always been charity days, bake sales, fundraising events, and charity partnerships. And the sums raised are not inconsiderable.

But what we are noticing at LandAid is that, finally, companies are treating their relationships to charities, and the work they do, with similar rigour they do other commercial decisions. They’re not looking simply to sign an oversize cheque for a good cause. They’re looking to make a difference, to have an impact. They want things to change, to get better. Their engagement with charities is a means to an end – not the end in itself.

LandAid works across our industry to end youth homelessness. We don’t partner with just one company, or even several companies. We work with over 160 companies and our ambition is to work with the whole industry. We are very clear about the impact we want to achieve, and how we intend to achieve that impact. Over the last three years, and with your support, we’ve provided over 450 homes for young people who’ve been homeless – in every part of the UK- enabling them to study, train, work, fall in love, and get on with their lives.

This has a huge impact. And it is an impact you enable us to effect.

As young professionals, and as part of the vibrant YEP network, you’re already supporting LandAid. We’ve just received a fantastic donation of £3,000 from the YEP Board raised simply through your membership. But many of the companies you work for may be supporting us as well. You may be one of our Ambassadors (thank you if you are!). You may have donated your skills through our pro bono programme. You may have joined in a LandAid event – you may be preparing to take on the challenge of a LandAid SleepOut (if you’re not, you HAVE to click here! – https://www.landaid.org/events/sleepout-landaid).

At LandAid, whatever the headlines and the surveys may say, and notwithstanding the industry’s undoubted challenges, we know there’s much to be proud of as a property professional. And as a YEP member you have more to be proud of than most. But secretly, we know that you can be most proud of the fact that you are part of an industry that can, and with LandAid will, end youth homelessness.

Find out more about our work at www.landaid.org.   

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